In the rush and hustle of life, we tend to get bogged down with the simplest of things. One of these might even be discussing salvation on God's terms, and not of our own.
Recently, there have been many blogs on the necessity, command, and importance of baptism based on Biblical text.
If you missed this particular post a few days ago, here is a reminder - What Must I Do To Be Saved...oh, I don't want to do that.
But, is there a point in which we really need to "slow down" and make sure that when we talk about baptism that we really and truly understand the need, the desire, and the command?
Let's look at 5 reasons that one should NOT be baptized, and then 1 very important reason that you should.
Ready? Open your Bible and let's go!
1. You should NOT be baptized because a friend or family member wants you to.
In Acts 8:37, you might remember the familiar story of baptism and the eunuch. Philip had been brought to the introduction of the eunuch and began studying with him Isaiah 53. There is a very obvious implication when the text says that he taught Christ unto the eunuch.
Teaching Christ brought this man's understanding of baptism. As they came to water, the eunuch says "here is water, what hinders me?"
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Acts 8:37)
Notice what it says about the heart...
The heart is where repentance, belief, confession and faith are found. It is not a physical measurement of a goal. It is from the heart - not the physical heart, but the emotional heart...the one that we feel with.
2. You should NOT be baptized based on age, whether young or old.
Some like to consider that there is an age in which a person should consider baptism. The "key" age seems to be around 12 years old. It is interesting that this age is brought into the thought process, and some believe that it is because of the story told of Jesus at age 12.
Frankly, to say that there is an age that one must consider baptism is not really a scriptural thought. Some people mature much faster and much slower than others. Personally, this author was baptized at a young age. There are no regrets in that as it was understood that baptism was for the remission of sins, as well as a command that was to be obeyed of Christ.
There are those that believe in infant baptism as well. This is a false doctrine. The Bible clearly states that we choose to follow in the path of salvation as outlined in 1 Cor 15:1-8, as well as in Romans 6:1-4; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16, and so on. An infant or baby cannot choose what they are going to do. To baptize an infant would liken to predestination in that man cannot do anything about his eternal condition since he has no control over what happens to him as an infant.
The alternate theory of someone of an age near average death should not be the reason for baptism; however, let's approach this topic with tender love and care. Jesus tells of a great story in Matt 20:1-16 (workers in the vineyard), in which the master of the vineyard gives the reward that was offered as pay to all that came to labor, regardless of how long they had been hired for. We would do good to remember this in effort to bring souls to Christ, younger and older alike.
3. You should NOT be baptized because of false teachings of the world or false doctrine.
One should never be baptized to become a member of a particular church. Matter of fact, we do not become a member of the Lord's church [just]* by being baptized. We are baptized for the remission of our sins...and the Lord adds us to His church such as were saved (cf. Acts 2:37-47).
Some believe that baptism is a ritual that adds one to a certain membership, while others may believe that the person baptizing them has some sort of power. Look at the words of Paul in a plea for no division in the church in the first epistle to the church in Corinth:
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 1 Cor 1:12-15
Luke also reminds us in the book of Acts that there were those that Paul had met that did not even understand for what they had been baptized:
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Act 19:3-5
Baptism is for the remission of sins. That is what the act of obedience is to represent. Not baptism for any other reason, nor is it in anyone else's name besides the name of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.
4. You should NOT be baptized if you are not willing to change.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Rom 6:3-4
Baptism requires a change. A change in life, a change in thinking, a change in heart, a repentance...a turning away...a burial as Paul puts it.
Eze 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Unless one realizes the depth of the removal of sins, there is not a way to understand the power of forgiveness that is found in baptism. Imagine if you will, that you had been living your life carrying a forty pound anvil tied to your left leg. Every time you stepped forward, you now had to drag that anvil a few feet in order to get anywhere. Think of sin as this anvil. As you find yourself walking along a level or gently rolling plain, this task may not seem too difficult; however, what happens when you get to a set of steps, or better yet, a huge tree that has fallen in your path? How are you going to lift up that anvil to get to your destination?
You see, when we make that wonderful choice to follow Jesus, our lives change. They have to change. Simply put, as the Bible states, we must die to ourself and now allow Christ to live in us! If you aren't willing or ready to change, you should not be baptized, but study more and find the commitment that is required of each of us.
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
5. You should NOT be baptized if you think that this is all that is required to get to Heaven.
Many of us have witnessed that new birth as mentioned in Romans 6:3-4. It is a new creature, a babe in Christ, a new and cleansed living soul, dead to sin, living to Christ.
Of course we know that we cannot be "born again" in the physical sense, nor can we "become as a child" in order to be most pleasing to God, but we can heed these words:
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 1 Cor 3:1-5
God gives instruction that we must keep on growing spiritually. We cannot stop with baptism alone. We must do all that we can to live a faithful, Christ-like life that is evident in influence and example that we are certainly those that belong to Christ...today, tomorrow, and for eternity!
This list is by no means inclusive of reasons that one should not be baptized; however, it is a list of reasons that one must consider when they are thinking of choosing to obey the gospel of our Lord and Savior.
There is so much confusion in the world, and especially in denominationalism regarding baptism. Nowhere in the bible will you find some practices that we see all too often in today's time...
These things ought not be! Baptism is commanded by Jesus in command and inference in Matt 28:18-20, and Mark 16:15-16. We would do well to thoroughly study these texts to see why we should not be baptized, and also one majorly incredible reason that we should...
Because there will be no eternity in heaven without baptism for the remission of sins! There is not another chance for a "thief on the cross" scenario, nor another opportunity to meet John the Immerser who baptized for repentance until the baptism of Christ.
Friends, if you have not obeyed the gospel, putting on Christ in baptism by being washed in His blood, please know that God desires for men everywhere to be saved, and is long-suffering that not one precious soul should die eternally lost. All we have to do is be obedient unto Him!
Minister, Rock Hill church of Christ
*Editor's Note: In point #3, I stated that we do not become a member of the Lord's church because we are baptized. Please do not miss the context of this statement. Yes, we become a member of the Lord's church (body) once we are baptized for the remission of sins. My point is simply that becoming a member of the Lord's church is not the reason for being baptized (the church was not established when Jesus gave the Great Commission, as well as the rhetoric of great sermon preached the day of Pentecost was not the primary of the imperative statement made to be baptized. Becoming a member of the church was the result) . In 1 Cor 12:13, we certainly see that we are baptized into the body - the body of Christ - synonymous for the term "church" in many ways, but we should not desire to be baptized just as an entry into the church. We should desire to be baptized for obedience unto God's will, into Jesus blood, for the remission of sins. I apologize for any confusion this statement may have caused in its semantical argument.